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What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West Hardcover – May 11, 2004

23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rauf, a Manhattan imam whose mosque is only 12 blocks from the World Trade Center site, argues that what keeps the Islamic world and America apart, and what fuels Islamic terrorism, is economics, politics, Muslim defensiveness—everything but religion. In fact, Rauf believes that America best represents Islam's true values. His major theme is the existence of an "Abrahamic ethic" which undergirds all the monotheistic religions and extols equality and justice. If Muslims, especially American Muslims, harness this Abrahamic ethic, Rauf promises Islam will once again contribute to the universal striving for a better society. In countering Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong?, Rauf raises numerous valid points: the U.S. overthrow of democratic Islamic regimes in Iran and Indonesia; U.S. creation and sponsorship of Afghan mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union; the anti-Muslim bias of American media (a point echoed by Karen Armstrong in the foreword); the massive, debilitating effect colonization had on most of the Islamic world; and the "drawing [of] lines" in the Middle East and South Asia by European powers after WWI and WWII, dooming countries with wildly diverse populations to perpetual unrest. However, Rauf presents these points sporadically and less eloquently than some previous commentators. The book's strengths include a concise history of Islam as well as brief but valuable insights into the American Muslim community. The few references to his own personal story also resonate: "Like many immigrants from Muslim lands, I discovered my Islam in America."
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“This book shows that the only possible way forward is by the assiduous cultivation of mutual respect.” (Karen Armstrong, author of The Battle for God, from the foreword)

“An excellent work of bridge building!” (Professor Dr. Hans Kung, President, Global Ethic Foundation, author of On Being a ChristianProfessor Dr. Hans Kung, President, Global Ethic Foundation, author of On Being a Christian)

“Wise and well-written, this important book is a ‘MUST’ for any thinking person who cares about our world.” (Lord Carey of Clifton, Chair of World Economic Forum's Council of 100 Leaders on West-Islamic World Dialogue)

“At long last, a book that helps “us Westerners” to see Muslims as they wish to see themselves.” (Gunnar Stålsett - Bishop of Oslo, Lutheran Church of Norway, member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee)

“A searching, thoughtful and reasoned alternative to the shrill doomsayers who proclaim a ‘clash of civilizations.’” (Shashi Tharoor, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information)

“The publication of this book is a timely event, providing objective, serious responses to challenges that Islam faces today.” (Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, author of The Heart of Islam)

Rauf argues that what keeps the Islamic world and America apart is economics, politics, Muslim defensiveness—everything but religion. (Publishers Weekly)

“An important counterweight to anti-Islamic polemics.” (Library Journal)

“An invigorating glimpse into the heart and mind of a wise Muslim seeking the higher ground.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“What’s Right with Islam... reveals a man dedicated to fitting the Muslim square peg into an American round hole - an at times awkward task that Rauf often carries out quite effectively.” (Religion Dispatches Magazine)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1St Edition edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060582723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060582722
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 38 people found the following review helpful By L. F Sherman on August 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Rauf is Imam of a Mosque a few blocks from the World Trade Center site and has been passionately involved in the aftermath of that tragedy, interfaith understanding, and the place of Islam in the United States.

His essay is a useful source to stimulate thinking even on matters with which one can not entirely agree. Most contemporary and major historical and social questions about Islam are addressed in a manner and from a perspective that is unique with comparisons to American values and practices and just enough history to provide context.

There are some major reasons that disagreement and/or discomfort may be expected that do not reduce the stimulation from reading the book:

(1) There will be some small disagreements on details for historians but there are also many thoughtful perspectives that may be of considerable value even for scholars of the subject.

(2) The comparisons to American principles will seem forced at times both because they relate to an idealized Islam of moderates and because most of us have been strongly conditioned by Islam phobia our entire lives continue to be fed nonsense by those who should know better and often want to divert us from the real policy issues ("they attack because they hate our freedoms and way of life" as if elections, booze, and bikinis are reason for attack).

(3) He does not address the moralistic antagonism against what Muslims (like Right Christians and others) consider to be lewd and corrupt behavior.

(4) There is little about the cultural values regarding family, honor, community that are not parallel to the individualistic, sometimes selfish and egoistic, standards of our own society. (To that degree he somewhat idealizes Americans as well as Muslims).
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author clearly is a cut above the rest since he writes from an empowered position. Empowered because he does not sit in one of the most artificial environment ever created - academia. Out there in the real world and dealing with various situations - his ability to engage the honest seeker is readily apparent. A physicist by training,living in America for the past 40 + years, he has been dealing with problems ranging from the individually intricate and subltley psychologic to the societal and geopolitical while in his pulpit in Tribeca, New York City. Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf just about ranks as the planets top expositor of Islam to the English speaking world.
I have attended several of his lectures, and am well acquainted with the other 'spokespersons' for islam in the Americas; hence I make the statement with some experience.
His grasp of the Arabic language is superb, as is his ability to explain, and write (he is an even better orator). People who remain Islamaphobic after reading this book and a few others like it need to examine their inability to get past their own subjective projections, as well as understand that criminal activity and wickedness need come in the guise of any ideology, be it a religous guise, or one espousing political ideology such as 'national interests', or 'foreign policy.' Neither piety, nor the American Ideal, are often found in the headlines or what passes these days as academic and historical works. Dr. Faiz Khan MD
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Imam Feisal speaks for all Muslims who find themselves defending their religion. His moderate voice is consistent with the philosophical basis of Islam. His approach and vivid examples provide Muslims with a framework to best articulate how Islam and the West are not only compatible but also made for each other.
This is also a must read for anyone whose impressions of Islam have been formed through the events and coverage of the last few years. Many are perplexed by the seeming inconsistency of terror "in the name of Islam" and our leaders' statements such as "Islam is a religion of Peace." Without addressing the 'expert analysis' given full reign in the media to besmirch Islam, this book effectively discredits those theories. By identifying the common threads between West & Islam, the 'us vs. them' thoughts dissolve.
This should serve as the foundation of reconciliation and peace between Islam and the West.
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful By D. Golden on June 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first few reviews of this book written by my fellow Amamzonians were exactly what I expected to read. Reviewer Tom Swift spouts racists nonsense about " total world conquest ", while Mohammed Irfan Shariff toes the ultra conservative Sunni line that condemns anything Sufi.

Tragically it seems that prevailing views, both within the Muslim world and without, have effectively smothered the voice of rational, forward thinking, Islam.

Feisal Abdul Rauf presents the reader with a very well laid out, well crafted, highly logical and even handed presentation of the challenges that face Islamic nations and the rest of the world as we try ( some of us at least ) to find ways to coexist in mutually beneficial ways. Personally, there wasn't anything in this book that I hadn't read or experienced previously. The history of the rise and spread of Islam has been written about by many authors, each with his or her particular bias. What the good Imam has done however, is to provide a wonderfully thorough context in which to examine the history of Islam via vis it's relationship with the western world.

I challenge Tom Swift to attend Friday prayers at his local mosque. What he will experience is a sincerely warm greeting and a willingness to share very openly about Islam's core beliefs. I did this back in the late 90's and was deeply moved, not only by the personal contact, but by the Imam's firm declaration that the United States was, and I quote, " the best place in the world to be a Muslim ". I respectfully remind Mohammed Irfan Shariff, that many of Islam's greatest achievements in science and philosophy were accomplished by Sufis and that many of the world's Sufis are devoted to the Qur'an and are deeply observant Muslims.
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